New Chairman - 2006

Greetings and best regards, folks. Let me introduce myself. I am Roger Smithe, the newly elected Chairman of the International Great Lakes Coalition (IGLC) for 2006. The other officers of the IGLC are: Vice Chairman, Joe Menegon of Hamilton, Ontario; Secretary, Jim TeSelle, President of the Wisconsin Chapter; Treasurer, Priscilla Mueller of the Michigan/Lake Michigan Chapter; and Special Envoy for Government Affairs, Bill Somerville of the Michigan/Lake Michigan Chapter.

I live on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Manistee, MI. I joined the Coalition in1988 when water levels were at record highs and caused horrible erosion of beaches and bluffs in my area. I'm 73 years old, a registered professional engineer and still work four days a week. My phone number and e-mail address are available from the Coalition office in Saugatuck. (269-857-8945)

I believe the principal objective of the IGLC is still the same today as it was in 1988: the preservation of beaches and property. High levels will surely return and threaten our homes again. They always have come back after a period of low water.

My vision of the IGLC sees a collection of individual chapters that are united in the one common goal of Reasonable Lake Levels. However, some chapters are also involved in important local issues. The Wisconsin chapter has been working with the state on programs for Great Lakes Restoration. Articles on their accomplishments are in this newsletter. The Michigan/Lake Michigan chapter has expertise on sand supply. Some shoreline residents are suing the Corps of Engineers because pier structures interrupt the littoral drift of sand that nourishes the beaches. (See article by John Ehret) The Ohio chapter is involved in property rights issues. The Michigan/Lake Erie chapter is concerned about downcutting in the St. Clair River. Thus, the IGLC also serves as a forum for chapters to exchange information and ideas and gain wider support.

On lake levels again: The International Joint Commission (IJC) is soon going to undertake a VERY IMPORTANT and comprehensive new study of lake level management – if they get funding from Congress. The study will focus on two things: (1) possible changes in the formula for releasing Lake Superior water into Lakes Michigan and Huron, and (2) possible downcutting of the St. Clair River, which might (we don't know) have increased flows from Lake Huron to Lake Erie, and if so, possible remedial measures.

The IGLC believes, and I think everyone will agree, that when there is too much water in the lakes, the solution is to let some out. It is not to redistribute it between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, or between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. We have sent comments on this point to the IJC and the Corps Engineers.

We are concerned that the study mentions a new balancing of interests, with "no disproportionate losses to any particular interest." That sounds like there may be some loss to some interests, and you know who that will be if we let it happen. The IGLC will be requesting that several of our members be appointed to represent shoreline interests on the various study groups. We would like to hear from anyone who has expertise in hydrology or the environmental impact of level fluctuations. You may call the office and leave a message. (269-857-8945) Bill Somerville, president of the Michigan/Lake Michigan chapter has already met several times with IJC people to present Coalition views.

Finally, the IGLC is friends with Save Our Shoreline (SOS). They have about 2500 members, mostly on Lake Huron, Saginaw Bay and Traverse City. SOS contends that, if your property deed says you own to the water's edge, that is exactly what it means. The DEQ does not own the beach. This issue has not been fully resolved and the IGLC will keep you informed.

From Your Secretary:

Greetings, friends and neighbors! Bet you thought we'd forgotten about you! Well we didn't, we've just been so involved with Lakes issues that this newsletter got delayed just a bit. There's so much going on that it's taken a lot of our time just to keep up with it. In this letter we hope to give you a brief, repeat brief, summary of the major issues. Reading it all and trying to absorb it would probably leave most of us longing for re-runs of I Love Lucy. Actually it's all good, and we support it – hey, it's been a long time since any of us could say that!

One thing before we proceed: if we are to have any influence at all on what's going to be done with the Lakes, we need you. Yes you. Without you we are just a small group of nice guys and gals who want to leave something better to our children and grandchildren, but with you, we can actually do it. We need your support, and at the risk of putting you off, your money. Meetings, mailings, and trips all cost money but if we don't participate in the events going on, we will be a small faceless voice in a sea of much louder ones. Expect us to ask you to send letters to our elected representatives from time to time, and expect a survey asking your feelings about issues that affect us and the Lakes.